How much is a human life worth? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) thinks it knows the answer: $4.8 million in 1990 dollars.
In February 2002, the EPA issued a set of Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist economic analysis of environmental regulations and policies. The effect will be to further enshrine a "dollars first" approach to policy.
To anybody who has studied the uncertain science of cost-benefit analysis, it is clear that such analyses are fraught with uncertainties. The willingness of the EPA to throw human lives on the dollar scale with other loose "valuations" of economic and non-economic impacts is troubling, to say the least.
Project Whitewash has written a brief critique of the Guidelines.
Project Whitewash home page